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Dean Alexander Aleinikoff of Georgetown Law Center appointed UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees

T. Alexander Aleinikoff

T. Alexander Aleinikoff

Many, many congrats to our friend and colleague, Alex Aleinikoff! Kara Tershel for the Georgetown Blue&Gray writes:

The United Nations has appointed Law Center Dean T. Alexander Aleinikoff as deputy high commissioner for refugees, effective Feb. 1. He will continue to serve as dean through late January.The U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), located in Geneva, Switzerland, leads and coordinates international action to protect refugees and is responsible for resolving refugee problems worldwide.

“During his tenure, Alex has been responsible for significant development at the Law Center,” said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “A dedicated teacher, scholar and administrator, he has been committed to fostering an intellectually engaged community, to supporting our faculty, to ensuring that our law student body is more competitive every year and to creating new opportunities for alumni outreach, both here and abroad.”

Aleinikoff joined the Georgetown law faculty in 1997. He served as associate dean for research from 2003 to 2004, and was named Law Center dean and executive vice president in 2004.

“Refugee and asylum law has been a central focus of my scholarship and research,” Aleinikoff said. “The first course I taught at the Law Center was refugee law. In taking up the position at UNHCR, I will be joining a U.N. organization that provides protection or assistance to nearly 34 million people around the world.”

Though the Law Center dean said he looks forward to working for an organization that has twice been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work on “behalf of the persecuted and the dispossessed,” there are things he will miss about Georgetown.

“One cannot walk our halls, talk with our students or meet with our alumni without appreciating the remarkable community that thrives here,” Aleinikoff wrote in a letter to the Law Center community. “Our reach is broad, our bonds are deep.”

During his deanship, Aleinikoff worked to enhance the Law Center’s transnational and international curriculum. This work led to the 2008 opening of the Center for Transnational Legal Studies in London. In 2006, the Law Center initiated a one-week course at the beginning of the second semester for first-year students, which explores the role of law in a global context.  The transnational agenda also focused on alumni engagement in Europe and Asia and the creation of alumni advisory boards on both continents.

Aleinikoff has a long history of commitment to public service and global justice. He served as general counsel and executive associate commissioner for programs at the Immigration and Naturalization Service for several years during the Clinton administration. Last year, he co-led the immigration policy working group for then-President-elect Obama’s transition team. He also serves as chairman of the Global Agenda Counsel on Migration of the World Economic Forum.

“I am not able to express adequately my gratitude to those with whom I have worked during my tenure as dean. The faculty and staff of this law school sustain an institution that makes enormous contributions to our community, our nation and the world,” he said. “I have been very proud every day as dean to be a member of this community.”

Aleinikoff plans to return to Georgetown’s law faculty after his UNHCR term. In the meantime, DeGioia will be working in the coming weeks to appoint interim leadership at the Law Center and to organize a formal search process to recruit Aleinikoff’s successor.

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Anthony Clark Arend is Professor of Government and Foreign Service at Georgetown University and the Director of the Master of Science in Foreign Service in the Walsh School of Foreign Service.

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.